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July 24, 2006 12:00 am

The Ledger Domain: Blackout Blues


Maury Brown

Fan outrage, contractual arcana, and management cynicism--and it has nothing to do with steroids?

In last week's article, I posted a small blurb simply reading, "If you are caught in the middle of a blackout dilemma, e-mail me," as well as on my blog, The Baseball Journals. To show how widespread this issue really is, I received my first email less than 30 seconds after my article posted.

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I've complained a lot about broadcasts, but what do I actually want? As I've sat around watching every game I can down the stretch, I've given this some thought. I want insight, more than anything, and failing that, I'd like not to be insulted. I don't want to have the screen read to me: I can read. If I couldn't, wouldn't having the dude say "as you can see from the scouting report…" only rub in the pain of illiteracy? There's so much to talk about in a baseball game--from pitch to pitch, what's the sequence? How does this fit into a batter's strength and weaknesses, or the pitcher's? What kind of strategic possibilities exist, and how does each manager handle that situation? Instead, according to the announcers, every hitter is a first-pitch, fastball hitter who likes his pitches out and over the plate, and every pitcher needs to put the heat right in on their hands (an expression Jim Bouton used to ridicule). With runners on, it's always a good idea to put the game in motion, I'm told. Put pressure on the defense. Nothing's this simple. I'd love to see some real debate in the booth. I've argued before that the best thing baseball could do would be to copy wrestling and have one announcer (the play-by-play man would be best) who's a bit of a homer, and the other announcer who's the critic, and rankles the home fans a little. With the right people, you might find that while fans didn't like the crew, they were much more involved in the broadcasts and tuned in to see what would happen next.

I've complained a lot about broadcasts, but what do I actually want? As I've sat around watching every game I can down the stretch, I've given this some thought.

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During the regular season, I can see where MLB might fail to get the national deal they'd like. But what's happening this post-season is a disaster.

I love the playoffs. Yeah, I complain about the announcers and the scheduling that seems to favor a particular team (say, the Diamondbacks) every year. But I also tape games I can't get out of work to see, or if they conflict. During the regular season, you can pick out particular games you really want to see, great pitching matchups or any game with Barry Bonds. During the playoffs, they're all good games, and some of them are awesome.

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